Instructions: The Road to Happy Artwork

“You write great instructions!”, a print rep once told me. I was surprised to get the compliment. He told me he often gets only verbal instructions, or if they are written, they aren’t very thorough. From my perspective, if there are details about the artwork I want printed correctly, then written instructions are critical.


I try to be thorough and concise with the print instructions I write. I know it will pass through a few hands before the final product is complete. It’s like the old telephone game, and I want to make sure the last person in line understands exactly what I’ve said.


If you are going to deal with humans when having artwork printed, consider taking the following road when writing the instructions.


1. Write complete sentences. Full sentences will communicate more thoroughly than one or two word notes.


2. Use normal speaking language. Use industry vocabulary if it applies, but write as if you are speaking to someone.


3. Express any concerns or details to consider. For example, if there are details in the dark areas of your artwork that you don’t want to lose, then say so.


4. Include your contact info. If there’s a question, your info will be readily available if it’s on the instructions and artwork.


5. Sign off with a “thank you”.  Consider the process a team effort. Each player will appreciate recognition of his contribution to the final product.


Honk if your artwork’s happy!


Contributed by Veronica Walsh, children’s book illustrator


One response to “Instructions: The Road to Happy Artwork

  1. Veronica,

    Thanks for these tips! I’m not an illustrator. As a PB author I hesitate to add illustrator notes. From your perspective as an illustrator what’s your opinion? Do you want authors to add notes to their mss or not?


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